What is an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)? Well, according to United
States Air Force Regulation 80-17 (dated 19 September 1966), a UFO is "Any"
aerial Phenomnon or object which is unknown or appears to be out of the
ordinary to the observer." This is a very broad definition which applies
equally well to one individual seeing his first noctilucent cloud at
twilight as it does to another individual seeing his first helicopter.
However, at present most people consider the term UFO to mean an object
which behaves in a strange or erratic manner while moving through the
Earth's atmosphere. That strange phenomenon has evoked strong emotions
and great curiosity among a large segment of our world's population. The
average person is interested because he loves a mystery, the professional
military man is involved because of the possible threat to national
security, and some scientists are interested because of the basic curiosity
that led them into becoming researchers
The literature on UFO's is so vast, and the stories so many and varied,
that we can only present a sketchy outline of the subject in this chapter.
That outline includes description classifications, operational domains
(temporal and spatial), some theories as to the nature of the UFO
phenomenon, human reactions, attempts to attack the problem scientifically,
and some tentative conclusions. If you wish to read further in this area,
the references provide an excellent starting point.
One of the greatest problems you encounter when attempting to catalog
UFO sightings, is selection of a system for cataloging. No effective
system has yet been devised, although a number of different systems have
been proposed. The net result is that almost all UFO data are either
treated in the form of individual cases, or in the forms of inadequate
classification systems. However, these systems do tend to have some common
factors, and a collection of these factors is as follows:
b. Shape (disc, ellipse, football, etc.)
e. Number of UFO's
a. Location (altitude, direction, etc.)
b. Patterns of paths (straight line, climbing, zig-zagging, etc.)
c. Flight Characteristics (wobbling, fluttering, etc.)
d. Periodicity of sightings
e. Time duration
f. Curiosity orq uisitiveness
a. Electro-Magnetic (compass, radio, ignition systems, etc.)
b. Radiation (burns, induced radioactivity, etc.)
c. Ground disturbance (dust stirred up, leaves moved, standing wave
d. Sound (none, hissing, humming, roaring, thunderclaps, etc.)
e. Vibration (weak, strong, slow, fast)
f. Smell (ozone or other odor)
g. Flame (how much, where, when, color)
h. Smoke or cloud (amount, color, persistence)
i. Debris (type, amount, color, persistence)
j. Inhibition of voluntary movement by observers
k. Sighting of "creatures" or "beings"
a. Burned areas or animals
b. Depressed or flattened areas
c. Dead or missing animals
d. Mentally disturbed people
e. Missing items
We make no attempt here to present available data in terms of the foregoing
33.2 OPERATIONAL DOMAINS - TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL
What we will do here is to present evidence that UFO's are a global
phenomenon which may have persisted for many thousands of years. During
this discussion, please remember that the more ancient the reports the less
sophisticated the observer. Not only were the anciet observers lacking
the terminology necessary to describe complex devices (such as present day
helicopters) but they were also lacking the concepts necessary to
understand the true nature of such things a television, spaceships,
rockets, nuclear weapons and radiation effects. To some, the most
adavnced technological concept was a war chariot with knife blades attached
to the wheels. By the same token, the very lack of accurate terminology
and descriptions leaves the more ancient reports open to considerable
misinterpretation, and it may well be that present evaluations of
individual reports are completely wrong. Nevertheless, let us start with
an intriguing story in oe of the oldest chronicles of India.The Book of
Dzyan. The book is a group of "story-teller" legends which were finally
gathered in manuscript form when man learned to write. One of the stories
is of a small group of beings who supposedly came to Earth many thousands
of years ago in a metal craft which orbited the Earth several times before
landing. As told in the Book "These beings lived to themselves and were
revered by thehumans among whom they had settled. But eventually
differences arose among them and they divided their numbers,several of the
men and women and some children settled in another city, where they were
promptly installed s rulers by the awe-stricken populace.
"Separation did not bring pom the city of their enemies,
they launched great shining lance that rode on a beam of light. It burst
apart in the city of their enemies with a great ball of flame that shot up
to the heavens, almost to the stars. All those who were in the city were
horribly burned and even those who were not in the city - but nearby - were
burned also. Those who looked upon the lance and the ball of fire were
blinded forever afterward. Those who entered the city on foot became ill
and died. Even the dust of the city was poisoned, as were the rivers that
flowed through it. Men dared not go near it, and it gradually crumled
into dust and was forgotten by men."
"When the leader saw what he had done to his own people he retired to
his palace and refused to see anyone. Then he gathered about him those
warriors who remained, and their wives and children, and they entered their
vessels and rose one by one into the sky and sailed away. Nor did they
... be an account of an extraterrestrial
colonization, complete with guided missle, nuclear warhead and radiation
effects? It is difficult to assess the validity of that explanation...
just as it is difficult to explain why Greek, Roman and Nordic Mythology
all discuss wars and contacts among their "Gods." (Even the Bible records
conflict between the legions of God and Satan.) Could it be that each
group recorded their parochial view of what was actually a global conflict
among alien colonists or visitors? Or is it that man has led such a violent
existence that he tends to expect conflict and violence among even his gods?
Evidence of perhaps an even earlier possible contact was uncovered by
Tschi Pen Lao of the University of Peking. He discovered astonishing
carvings in granite on a mountain in Hunan Province and on an island in
Lake Tungting. These carvings have been evaluated as 47,000 years old, and
they show people with large trunks (breathing apparatus?...or "elephant"
heads shown on human bodies? Remember, the Egyptians often represented
their gods as animal heads on human bodies.)
Only 8,000 years ago, rocks were sculpted in the Tassili plateau of
Sahara, depicting what appeared to be human beings but with strange round
heads (helmets? or "sun" heads on human bodies?) And even more recently,
in the Bible, Genesis (6:4) tells of angels from the sky mating with women
of Earth, who bore them children. Genesis 19:3 tells of Lot meeting two
angels in the desert and his later feeding them at his house. The Bible
also tells a rather unusual story of Ezekiel who witnessed what has been interpreted by some to have been a spacecraft or aircraft landing near the
Chebar River in Chaldecounts of the era about 956 A.D.)
are numerous stories of "demonships" in the skies. In one case a rope from
one such ship became entangled with part of a church. A man from the ship
climbed down the rope to free it, but was seized by the ownspeople. The
bishop made the people release the man, who climbed back to the ship,
where the crew cut the rope and the ship rose and sailed out of sight.
In all of his actions, the climbing man appeared as if he were swimming
in water. Stories such as this makes one wonder if the legends of the
"little people" of Ireland were based upon imagination alone.
About the same time, in Lyons (France) three men and a women supposedly
descended from an airship or spaceship and were captured by a mob. These
foreigners admitted to being wizards, and were killed. (N mention is
made of the methods employed to extract the admissions.) Many documented
UFO sighting occurred throughout the Middle Ages, including an especially
startling one of a UFO over London on 16 Decembr 1742. However, we do
not have room to include any more of the Middle Ages sightings. Instead,
two "more-recent" sightings are contained in this section to bring us up to
In a sworn statement dated 21 April 1897, a prosperous and prominet
farmer named Alexander Hamilton (Le Roy, Kansas, U.S.A.) told of an attack
upon his cattle at about 10:30 p.m. the pervious Monday. He, his son, and
his tenant grabed axes and ran some 700 feet from the house to the cow
lot where a great cigar-shaped ship about 300 feet long floated some 30
feet above the cattle. It had a carriage underneath which was brightly
lighted within (dirigible and gondola?) and which had numerous windows.
Inside were six strange looking beings jabbering in a foreign language.
These beings suddenly became aware of amilton and the others. They
immediately turned a searchlight on the farmer, and also turned on some
power which sped up a turbine wheel (about 30 ft diameter) located under
the craft. The ship rose, taking with it a two-year old heifer which was
roped about the neck by a cable of one-half inch thick, red material. The
next day a neighbor, Link Thomas, found the animal's hide, legs and head
in his field. He was mystified at how the remains got to where they were
because of the lack of tracks in the soft soil. Alexander Hamilton's sworn
statemen was accompanied by an affidavit as to his veracity. The
affidavit was signed by ten of the local leading citizens.
On the evening of 4 November 1957 at Fort Itaipu, Brazil, two sentries
noted a "new star" in the sky. The "star" grew in size and within seconds
stopped over the fort. It drifted slowly downward, was as large as a big
aircraft, and was surround by a strong orange glow. A distinct humming
sound was heard, and then the heat struck. One sentry collapsed almost
immediately, the other managed to slide to shelter under the heavy cannons
where his loud cries awoke the garrison. While the troops were scrambling
towards their battle stations, complete electrical failure occurred.
There was panic until the lights came back on but a number of men still
managed to see an orange glow leaving the area at high speed. Both
sentries were found badly burned...one unconscious and the other incoherent,
suffering from deep shock.
Thus, UFO sightings nt only appear to extend back to 47,000 years
through time but also are global in nature. One has the feeling that
this phenomenon deserves some sort of valid scientific investigation, even
if it is a low level effort.
33.3 SOME THEORIES AS TO THE NATURE OF THE UFO PHENOMENON
There are very few cohesive theories as to the nature of UFO's. Those
theories that have been advanced can be collected in five groups:
b. Hoaxes, and rantings due to unstable personalities
c. Secret Weapons
d. Natural Phenomena
e. Alien visitors
It is believed by some cults that the mission of UFO's and their crews
is a spiritual one, and that all materiaistic efforts to determine the
UFO's nature are doomed to failure.
Hoaxes and Rantings due to Unstable Personalities
Some have suggested that all UFO reports were the results of pranks
and hoaxes, or were made by people with unstable personalities. This
attitude was particularly prevalent during the time period when the Air
Force investigation was being operated under the code name of Project
Grudge. A few airlines even went as far as to ground every pilot who
reported seeing a "flying saucer." The only way for the pilot to regain
flight status was to undergo a psychiatric examination. There was a
noticeable decline in pilot reports during this time interval, and a few
interpreted this decline to prove that UFO's were either hoaxes or the
result of unstable personalities. It is of interest that NICAP (The
National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) even tody still
receives reports from commercial pilots who neglect to notify either the
Air Force or their own airline.
There are a number of cases which indicate that not all reports fall
in the hoax category. We will examine one such case now. It is the
Socorro, New Mexico sighting made by police Sergeant Lonnie Zamora.
Sergeant Zamora was patrolling the streets of Socorro on 24 April 1964
when he saw a shiny object drift down into an area of gullies on he edge
of town. He also heard a loud roaring noise which sounded as if an old
dynamite shed located out that way had exploded. He immediately radioed
police headquarters, and drove out toward the shed. Zamora was forced to
stop about 150 yards away from a deep gully in which there appeared to be
an overturned car. He radioed that he was investigating a possible wreck,
and then worked his car up onto the mesa and over toward the edge of the
gully. He parked short, and when he walked the final few feet to the edge,
he was amazed to see that it was not a car but instead was a weird
eggshaped object about fifteen feet long, white in color and resting on
short, metal legs. Beside it, unaware of his presence were two humanoids
dressed in silvery coveralls. They seemed to be working on a portion of
the underside of the object. Zamora was still standing there, surprised,
when they suddenly noticed him and dove out of sight around the object.
Zamora also headed the other way, back toward his car. He glanced back at
the object just as a bright blue flame shot down from the underside.
Within seconds the eggshaped thing rose out of the gully with "an ear-
-splitting roar." The object was out of sight over the nearby mountains
almostimmediately, and Sergeant Zamora was moving the opposite direction
almost as fast when he met Sergeant Sam Chavez who was responding to Zamora's
earlier radio calls. Together they investigated the gully and found the
bushes charred and still smoking where the blue flame had jetted down on
them. About the charred area were four deep marks where the metal legs
had been Each mark was three and one half inches deep, and was circular
in shape. The sand in the gully was very hard packed so no sign of the
humanoids' footprints could be found. An official investigation was
launched that same day, and all data obtained supported the stories of
Zamora and Chavez. It is rather difficult to label this episode a hoax,
and it is also doubtful that both Zamora and Chavez shared portions of the
A few individuals have proposed that UFO's are actually advanced weapon
systems, and that their natures must not be revealed. Very few people
accept this as a credible suggestion.
It has also been suggested that at least some, and possibly all, of the
UFO cases were just mis-interpreted manifestations of natural phenomena.
Undoubtedly this suggestion has some merit. People have repoted, as UFO's,
objects which were conclusively proven to be balloons (weather and skyhook),
the planet Venus, man-made artificial satellites, normal aircraft, unusual
cloud formations, and lights from ceilometers (equipment projecting light
beams on cloud bases to determine the height of the aircraft visual ceiling).
It is also suspected that peoplehave reported mirages, optical illusions,
swamp gas and ball lightning (a poorly-understood discharge of electrical
energy in a spheroidal or ellipsoidal shape...some charges have lasted for
up to fifteen minutes but the ball is usually no bigger than a large orange.)
But it is difficult to tell a swamp dweller that the strange, fast-moving
light he saw in the sky was swamp gas; and it is just as difficult to tell
a farmer that a bright UFO in the sky is the same ball lightning that he
has seen rolling along his fence wires in dry weather. Thus accidental
mis-identification of what might well be natural phenomena breeds mistrust
and disbelief; it leads to the hasty conclusion that the truth is deliberatly
not being told. One last suggestion of interest has been made, that the
UFO's were plasmoids from space...concentrated blobs of solar wind
that succeeded in reaching the surface of the Earth. Someow this last
suggestion does not seem to be very plausible; perhaps because it ignores
such things s penetration of Earth's magnetic field.
33.5 ATTEMPTS AT SCIENTIFIC APPROACHES
In any scientific endeavor, the first step is to aquire data, the
second step to clasify the data, and the third step to form hypothesis.
The hypothesis are tested by repeating the entire process, with each cycle
resulting in an increase in understanding (we hope). The UFO phenomenon
does not yield readily to this approach because the data taken so far
xhibits both excessive variety and vagueness. The vagueness is caused
in part by the lack of preparation of the observer...very few people leave
their house knowing that they are going to see a UFO that evening.
Photographs are overexposed or underexposed, and rarely in color. Hardly
anyone carries around a radiation counter or magnetometer. And, in addition
to this, there is a very high level of "noise" in the data.
The noise consists of mistaken reports of known natural phenomena,
hoaxes, reports by unstable individuals and mistaken removal of data
regarding possible unnatural or unknown natural phenomena (by overzealous
individuals who are trying to eliminate all data due to known natural
phenomena). In addition, those data, which do appear to be valid, exhibit
an excessive amount of variety relative to the statistical samples which
are available. This has led to very clumsy classification systems, which
in turn provide quite unfertile ground for formulation of hypothesis.
One hypothesis which looked promising for a time was that of ORTHOTENY
(i.e., UFO sightings fall on "great circle" routes). At first, plots of
sightings seemed to verify the concept of orthoteny but recent use of
computers has revealed that even random numbers yield "great circle" plots
as neatly as do UFO sightings.
There is one solid advance that has been made though. Jacques and
Janine Vallee have taken a particular type of UFO - namely those that are
lower than tree-top level when sighted - and plotted the UFO's estimated
diameter versus the estimated distance from the observer. The result
yields an average diameter of 5 mters with a very characteristic drop for
short viewing distances, and rise for long viewing distances. This
behavior at the extremes of the curve is well known to astronomers and
psychologists as the "moon illusion." The illusion only occurs when the
object being viewed is a real, physical object. Because this implies that
the observers have vieweda real object, it permits us to accept also their
statement that these particular UFO's had a rotational axis o symmetry.
Another, less solid, advance made by the Vallee's was their plotting
of the total number f sightings per week versus the date. They did this
for the time span from 1947 to 1962, and then attempted to match the peaks
of the curve (every 2 years 2 months) to the times of Earth-Mars conjuction
(every 2 years 1.4 months). The match was very good between 1950 and 1956
but was poor outside those limits. Also, the peaks were not only at the
times of Earth-ars conjunction but also roughly at the first harmonic
(very loosely, every 13 months). This raises the question why should UFO's
only visit Earth when Mars is in conjunction and when it is on the opposite
side of the sun. Obviously, the conjunction periodicity of Mars is not the
final answer. As it happens, there is an interesting possibility to consider.
Suppose Jupiter's conjunctions were used; they are every 13.1 months.
That would satisfy the observed periods nicely, except for every even
data peak being of different magnitude from every odd data peak.
Perhaps a combination of Martian, Jovian, and Saturnian (and even other
planetary) conjunctions wil be necessary to match the frequency plot...
if it can be matched.
Further data correlation is quite difficult. There are a large number
of different saucer shapes but this may mean little. For example, look at
the number of different types of aircraft which are in use in the U.S. Air
It is obvious that intensive scientific study is needed in this area;
no such study has yet been undertaken at the necessary levels of intensity
and support. One thing that must be guarded against in any such study is
the trap of implicity assuming that our knowledge of Physics (or any other
branch of science) is complete. An example of one such trap is selecting
a group of physical laws which we now accept as valid, and assume that they
will ever be superceded.
Five such laws might be:
1) Every action must have an opposite and equal reactin.
2) Every particle in the univers attracts every other particle with a
force proportional to the product of the masses and inversely as the
square of the distance.
3) Energy, mass and momentum are conserved.
4) No material body can have a speed as great a c, the speed of light
in free space.
5) The maximum energy, E, which can be obtained from a body at rest is
E=mc2, where m is the rest mass of the body.
Laws numbered 1 and 3 seem fairly safe, but let us hesitate and take
another look. Actually, law number 3 is only valid (now) from a relativistic
viewpoint; and for that matter so are laws 4 and 5. But relativity
completely revised these physical concepts after 1915, before then Newtonian
mechanics were supreme. We should also note that general relativity has
not yet been verified. Thus we have te peculiar situation of five laws
which appear to deny the possibility of intelligent alien control of UFO's,
yet three of the laws are cent in concept and may not even be valid.
Also, law number 2 has not yet been tested under conditions of large relative
speeds or accelerations. We should not deny the possibility of alien
control ofO's on the basis of preconceived notions not established as
related or relevant to the UFO's.
From available information, the UFO phenomenon appears to ha been
global in nature for almost 50,000 years. The majority of known witnesses
have been reliable people who have seen easily-explained natural phenomena,
and there appears to be no overall positive correlation with population
density. The entire phenomenon could be psychological in nature but that
is quite doubtful. However, psychological factors probably do enter the
data picture as "noise." The phenomenon could also be entirely due to
known and unknown phenomena (with some psychological "noise" added in) but
that too is questionable in view of some of the available data.
This leaves us with the unpleasant possibility of alien visitors to
our planet, or at least of alien controlled UFO's. However, the data are
not well correlated, and what questionable data there are sugest the
existence of at least three and maybe four different groups of aliens
(possibly at different stages of development). This too is difficult to
accept. It implies the existence of intelligent life on a majority of the
planets in our solar system, or a surprisingly strong interest in Earth by
members of other solar systems.
A solution to the UFO problem may be obtained by the long and diligent
effort of a large group of well financed and competant scientists,
unfortunately there is no evidence suggesting that such an effort is going
to be made. However, even if such an effort were made, there is no
guarantee of success because of the isolated and sporatic nature of the
sightings. Also, there may be nothing to find, and that would mean a long
search with no proof at the end. The best thing to do is to keep an open
and skeptical mind, and not take an extremme position on any side of the
This document is available through the UFO Info Service.
For more information write to:
CUFON C/O UFO INFORMATION SERVICE
P.O. Box 832
MERCER ISLAND, WA 98040 - 0219
OR CALL (206) 721-5035 This is the original Air Force Document.